MIDDLEBORO — A study committee to examine benefits and solutions for reducing plastic bag usage in Middleboro was approved by the Board of Selectmen Monday night. Resident Jeff Stevens, a proclaimed “life-long environmentalist,” approached the board to propose this study because of his concerns for the large accumulations of trash in the town which can be attributed plastic bags. “I don’t go shopping without bringing my own bags.”

Mr. Stevens came to the board with research and statistics. According to him, the United States consumes around 380 billion plastic bags a year. “The typical family uses 1,500 plastic bags per year.” He adds, “One renewable eliminates 1,000 bags in its lifetime.”

Currently 61 cities and towns in Massachusetts, including Boston, have adopted by-laws pertaining to limitations on plastic bags. Mr. Stevens states he reached out to towns such as Bridgewater and Plymouth to find out how their communities have adapted to new restrictions. “I was told there’s been no formal complaints. No businesses or residents have been negatively impacted.”

It was pointed out during the hearing that many plastic bags end up at landfills because the Department of Public Works states you can’t include plastic bags in curb-side recycling pick-up due to the detrimental effects they have obstructing the gears of conveyor belts and processing equipment at these facilities. “As you can see, there’s a lot of reasons to do this.”

Mr. Stevens made it clear that he wasn’t looking for an outright ban on plastic bags or have any initiative that could disrupt businesses in the town. “I’m trying to reduce the problem. I want to find ways to not terribly inconvenience businesses or people while making a dramatic change in numbers.”

Selectmen Board member Diane Stewart stated she was interested in being on the Study Committee and hopes to find ways to incentivize businesses into using less plastic. Stevens pointed out that many businesses utilize large and thicker plastic bags meant to be reusable.

“This is certainly worth a discussion,” stated Allin Frawley, Chairman.

Any residents interested in joining this Study Committee can contact the Town Manager.